Within the Portland Metropolitan area, a number of town sites competed to be the major city of the region. Portland was one of them. St. Johns, Vancouver, Milwaukie, and the Oregon City/West Linn City area were others. The big debate was how far could ocean-going vessels travel year-round without having to cross sandbars. Milwaukie proponents argued that you can get all the way to Milwaukie. Portland said, "No, you can't get around Ross Island." St. Johns said, "You can't get around Swan Island." Portland won the struggle for a couple of reasons. First - The downtown Portland area was the best place where there was a natural wharf. Second, Portland built the Great Plank Road
, what we call Canyon Road, which provided access out to the Tualatin Valley. This valley was the primary agricultural area of the state at the time.